Red Faction was released for the PS2 in 2001, it represented
(in my eyes anyway) the first great FPS to hit the system. The
controls were tight, the storyline was unique, and the much-hyped
Geo-Mod technology was impressive. The game was also a commercial
success, prompting THQ and Volition to quickly crank out a sequel
(this time for all platforms). The result is Red Faction II,
a sequel that has little to do with the first game but is
nevertheless another solid FPS.
While the first one took place in the caves of Mars, this time around
the setting is on Earth. The player plays as Alias on a team of six
elite soldiers fighting against their creator, the evil Chancellor
Sopot. Eventually Sopot begins to fear his own creations, and
declares them enemies of the state. Thus, the player’s team decides
that he must die for this and other crimes against humanity. The only
tie to the original game is that the nanotechnology used to create
these super soldiers originated on Mars, and the six super soldiers
are fighting alongside the resistance to Sopot dubbed Red Faction
(which is relegated into the very far background in this battle). The
storyline is really the weakest area of the game, and what ultimately
prevents it from being as good as the original. Aside from the
unoriginal plot, the game doesn’t do a good job of even telling the
story that is there, and character development is pretty weak as
well. Even the surprise (you’ll see) is somewhat cliché. The main
highlight of story progression lies in the number of scripted events,
which is pretty impressive and at times can even make the player think
“woah, that was cool”.
Gameplay is much the same as the first game, with the typical FPS
controls most people expect. Movement is handled with the control
stick, the C stick controls turning, secondary functions are assigned
to the d-pad, R & L control primary and secondary firing for certain
weapons, and the face buttons control various in-game actions. Levels
take place both on foot, and in one of several different types of
vehicles. In the vehicular levels, the player is generally along for
the ride and is responsible for taking out the enemy and clearing a
path while the computer drives the vehicle (there are exceptions to
his, most notably the awesome mech). It also borrows an element from
Halo this time, as Alias can regenerate his health if he hides
out for a few seconds without taking any enemy fire.
Most importantly, the
popular Geo-Mod technology returns for a second installment. In case
you aren’t familiar with it, in a nutshell it allows the player to
blow up a variety of objects in the environment to access new areas,
alternate paths, and hidden extras. While it’s put to better use this
time around (more things to blow up and more variables), it’s still
underutilized. There are only a few instances where its use is really
essential to surviving and advancing, and you never get the feeling
that a situation is “inescapable” without it. Worse yet, most levels
are so linear that when you do need to blow something up to advance,
it’s readily apparent what should be done. I’m not saying that
Volition should’ve completely hidden how to advance in these
instances, but they could’ve done a lot more to make the player
actually have to think about how to move forward. Overall Geo-Mod
still serves to set this game apart from most other FPS titles, but I
wish they’d do more with it.
Red Faction II
also includes a variety of multiplayer modes, including death match,
capture the flag, bagman, arena, and team variations of each of these
on 40 different multiplayer maps. None of these are particularly
remarkable, and can be found in most other FPS titles. Fortunately
Red Faction II does support up to 5 different user-created bots,
enabling those of us with no FPS-lovin’ friends to get in on the fun
Enemy AI is decent, but certainly a notch below other FPS titles like
Halo or even Metroid Prime. Enemies will often duck and
take cover and work in teams, but other times they’ll dumbly stand in
place or worse turn and run in a wide-open area. Additionally, some
characters seem to be way overpowered in comparison to their
contemporaries. On the whole they’re challenging enough, but some
work could definitely be done to improve this area in the next
This is a port of the PS2 version, and it shows in the sub-standard
graphics. While everything is anti-aliased to remove the nasty PS2
shimmer, many textures still look washed out and the colors are
generally muted and uninspiring. Everything blows up real pretty
though, and the enemy animations (particularly when they’re dying) are
spot-on. So while the graphics are decent enough that it isn’t a big
issue, overall they aren’t up to typical GameCube standards.
Just like the first game, enemies will often utter various statements
during battle. This has actually been toned down though, which is
very disappointing as some hilarious dialogue was found in the
original (particularly when you’d sneak up on an enemy). In its place
is additional chatter from teammates, but their dialogue is fairly
lame and “edgy” just for the sake of being so. The actual voice
acting itself is good though, including the work of Lance Henriksen (Millennium,
The Quick and the Dead, and several video games among others).
The music is mostly generic techno stuff, which is another
disappointment in comparison to the original. It isn’t out of place,
but it doesn’t add a lot either.
Geo-Mod technology again makes it fun and
useful to blow stuff up.
Tight controls, a smooth framerate, and plenty of
stuff to kill.
Enemy animations are nice.
Overall look is a notch below the GameCube
standard, despite the excellent explosions.
Geo-Mod technology is still not reaching it's full
Dialogue is worse than the original.
Despite the somewhat negative tone of this review,
Red Faction II really is a great addition to the GameCube’s FPS
lineup. By itself it’s unique and simple enough to be very
entertaining, but as part of the series it doesn’t live up to the
standard set by the original. Worth picking up if you haven’t
already played the Xbox or PS2 versions.